List of (pre-1707) English overseas possessions

(Please note that in the listing that follows, I’ve assigned each location a singular date, trying to choose a relevant date on which this can be included in the P500Yrs daily bulletins. Sometimes, another of the dates mentioned in the body of the entry might be more relevant or useful.)

ContinentDateList of English overseas possessions by date, reorganized from WP original
C/S. Am1578Elizabeth Island off Cape Horn, and another Elizabeth Island in the Straits of Magellan, were claimed for England by Sir Francis Drake in August 1578.[18] However, no settlements were made and it is no longer possible to identify the islands with certainty.
N.Am1586Roanoke Colony, in present-day North Carolina, was first founded in 1586 but was abandoned the next year. In 1587 a second attempt was made at establishing a settlement, but the colonists disappeared, leading to the name ‘Lost Colony.’ One of those lost was Virginia Dare.
N.Am1602At Cuttyhunk, one of the Elizabeth Islands (named after Queen Elizabeth I) of present-day Massachusetts, a small fort and trading post was established by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, but the island was abandoned after only one month.
C/S. Am1604Guiana: an attempt in 1604 to establish a colony failed in its main objective to find gold and lasted only two years.[38]
N.Am1607Jamestown, Virginia, was founded by the Virginia Company of London in 1607.
N.Am1607Popham Colony: on 13 August 1607, the Virginia Company of Plymouth settled the Popham Colony along the Kennebec River in present-day Maine. The company had a licence to establish settlements between the 38th parallel (the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay) and the 45th parallel (near the current US border with Canada). However, Popham was abandoned after about a year, and the Company then became inactive.
India, Asia1608Surat: The East India Company’s traders settled at Surat in 1608, followed by the Dutch in 1617. Surat was the first headquarters town of the East India Company, but in 1687 it transferred its command centre to Bombay.
N.Am1610The Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol began to settle Newfoundland: Cuper’s Cove, founded in 1610, was abandoned in the 1620s
N.Am1611Henricus, also called Henricopolis, Henrico Town, and Henrico, was founded by the London Virginia Company in 1611 as an alternative to the swampy Jamestown, but it was largely destroyed in the Indian massacre of 1622.
India, Asia1611Machilipatnam: a trading factory was established here on the Coromandel Coast of India in 1611, at first reporting to Bantam.[40]
N.Am1615Bermuda, also known as the Somers Isles, lying in the North Atlantic, were accidentally settled by the Virginia Company of London in 1609, due to the wrecking of the company’s flagship Sea Venture; the company’s possession was made official in 1612, when St George’s, the oldest continually-inhabited, and the first proper, English town in the New World was established; in 1615 its administration passed to the Somers Isles Company, which was formed by the same shareholders; House of Assembly of Bermuda established in 1620; Bermudians’ complaints to the Crown led to the revocation of the company’s Royal charter in 1684.
N.Am1615(Newfdld) Renews, founded in 1615, abandoned in 1619[33]
India, Asia1616Run, a spice island in the East Indies. On 25 December 1616, Nathaniel Courthope landed on Run to defend it against the claims of the Dutch East India Company and the inhabitants accepted James I as sovereign of the island. After four years of siege by the Dutch and the death of Courthope in 1620, the English left. According to the Treaty of Westminster of 1654, Run should have been returned to England, but was not. After the Second Anglo-Dutch War, England and the United Provinces agreed to the status quo, under which the English kept Manhattan, which the Duke of York had occupied in 1664, while in return Run was formally abandoned to the Dutch. In 1665 the English traders were expelled.
N.Am1617(Newfdld) Cambriol, founded in 1617. In 1616 Sir William Vaughan (1575–1641) bought from the Newfoundland Company all that land on the Avalon Peninsula located south of a line drawn from Caplin Bay (now Calvert) to Placentia Bay. The colony had been abandoned by 1637.
India, Asia1617Bantam: The English started to sail to the East Indies about the year 1600, which was the date of the foundation in the City of London of the East India Company (“the Governour and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies”) and in 1602 a permanent “factory” was established at Bantam on the island of Java.[39] At first, the factory was headed by a Chief Factor, from 1617 by a President, from 1630 by Agents, and from 1634 to 1652 by Presidents again. The factory then declined.
N.Am1618The Society of Merchant Venturers of Bristol began to settle Newfoundland:Bristol’s Hope, founded in 1618, was abandoned in the 1630s
Africa1618The Gambia River: in 1588, António, Prior of Crato, claimant to the Portuguese throne, sold exclusive trade rights on the Gambia River to English merchants, and Queen Elizabeth I confirmed his grant by letters patent. In 1618, King James I granted a charter to an English company for trade with the Gambia and the Gold Coast. The English captured Fort Gambia from the Dutch in 1661, who ceded it in 1664. The island on which the Fort stood was renamed James Island, and the fort Fort James, after James, Duke of York, later King James II. At first the chartered Company of Royal Adventurers in Africa administered the territory, which traded in gold, ivory, and slaves. In 1684, the Royal African Company took over the administration.
N.Am1620St John’s, Newfoundland, chartered in 1583 by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, was seasonally settled ca. 1520[30] and had settlers who remained all year round by 1620.[31][32]
N.Am1620Plymouth Colony, founded 1620, merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691
N.Am1620Ferryland, Newfoundland, granted to George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore in 1620, first settlers in August 1621[34]
N.Am1622Province of Maine, granted 1622, sold to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1677
N.Am1623South Falkland, Newfoundland, founded 1623 by Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland
N.Am1623Province of New Hampshire, later New Hampshire settled in 1623, see also New Hampshire Grants
W. Indies1623Saint Kitts was settled by the English in 1623, followed by the French in 1625. The English and French united to massacre the local Kalinago, pre-empting a Kalinago plan to massacre the Europeans, and then partitioned the island, with the English in the middle and the French at either end. In 1629 a Spanish force seized St Kitts, but the English settlement was rebuilt following the peace between England and Spain in 1630. The island then alternated between English and French control during the 17th and 18th centuries.
N.Am1624The Virginia Company was chartered in 1606, and in 1624 its concessions became the royal Colony of Virginia.
N.Am1624Cape Ann was an unsuccessful fishing colony settled in 1624 by the Dorchester Company.
W. Indies1625Barbados, first visited by an English ship, the Olive Blossom, in 1605,[36] was not settled by England until 1625,[37] soon becoming the third major English settlement in the Americas after Jamestown, Virginia, and the Plymouth Colony.
N.Am1628Salem Colony, settled in 1628, merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony the next year
W. Indies1628Nevis, settled 1628
N.Am1629Massachusetts Bay Colony, later part of Massachusetts, founded in 1629
N.Am1629New Scotland, in present Nova Scotia, 1629–1632
W. Indies1629Providence Island colony, settled by the Providence Island Company in 1629 and captured by Spain in 1641.
W. Indies1632Montserrat, settled 1632
W. Indies1632Antigua, settled in 1632 by a group of English colonists from Saint Kitts
N.Am1633Connecticut Colony, later part of Connecticut, founded in 1633
N.Am1634Province of Maryland, later Maryland, founded in 1634
N.Am1634Province of New Albion, chartered in 1634, but had failed by 1649–50.
N.Am1635Saybrook Colony, founded in 1635, merged with Connecticut in 1644
N.Am1636Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, first settled in 1636
N.Am1638New Haven Colony, founded 1638, merged with Connecticut in 1665
N.Am1639Gardiners Island, founded 1639, now part of East Hampton, New York
India, Asia1639Fort St George, at Madras (Chennai), was the first English fortress in India, founded in 1639. George Town was the accompanying civilian settlement.
N.Am1643The New England Confederation, formally the ‘United Colonies of New England’, was a short-lived military alliance of the English colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven, established in 1643, aiming to unite the Puritan colonies against the Native Americans. Its charter provided for the return of fugitive criminals and indentured servants.[35]
W. Indies1648The Bahamas were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1648, when the Eleutheran Adventurers left Bermuda to settle on the island of Eleuthera.
W. Indies1650Anguilla, first colonized by English settlers from St Kitts in 1650; the French gained the island in 1666, but under the Treaty of Breda of 1667 it was returned to England
C/S. Am1650Mosquito Coast: the Providence Island Company occupied a small part of this area in the 17th century.
N.Am1653Province of Carolina, settled 1653 at the Albemarle Settlements, chartered 1663 as a single territory but soon functioning in practice as two separate colonies:
N.Am1653Province of North Carolina, later North Carolina; first settled at Roanoke in 1586, permanently settled 1653, became a separate British colony in 1710.
W. Indies1655Jamaica, formerly a Spanish possession known as Santiago, it was conquered by the English in 1655.
Africa1657Saint Helena, an island in the South Atlantic, was settled by the English East India Company in 1659 under a charter of Oliver Cromwell granted in 1657. (The associated islands of Ascension and Tristan da Cunha were not settled until the 19th century.)
India, Asia1661Bombay: On 11 May 1661, the marriage treaty of King Charles II and Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal, transferred Bombay into the possession of England, as part of Catherine’s dowry.[41] However, the Portuguese kept several neighbouring islands. Between 1665 and 1666, the English acquired Mahim, Sion, Dharavi, and Wadala.[42] These islands were leased to the East India Company in 1668. The population quickly rose from 10,000 in 1661, to 60,000 in 1675.[43] In 1687, the East India Company transferred its headquarters from Surat to Bombay, and the city eventually became the headquarters of the Bombay Presidency.[44]
Africa1661English Tangier: this was another English possession gained by King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza. While it was strategically important, Tangier proved very expensive to garrison and defend and was abandoned in 1684.[28]
N.Am1664Province of New York, captured from the Dutch in 1664
N.Am1664Province of New Jersey, also captured in 1664
W. Indies1666Barbuda, first settled by the Spanish and French, was colonized by the English in 1666.
N.Am1668Rupert’s Land, named in honour of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the cousin of King Charles II. In 1668, Rupert commissioned two ships, the Nonsuch and the Eaglet, to explore possible trade into Hudson Bay. Nonsuch founded Fort Rupert at the mouth of the Rupert River. Prince Rupert became the first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which was established in 1670.
N.Am1670Province of South Carolina, later South Carolina; first permanently settled in 1670, became a separate British colony in 1710.
W. Indies1670The Cayman Islands were visited by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, who named them. They were largely uninhabited until the 17th century, when they were informally settled by pirates, refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, shipwrecked sailors, and deserters from Oliver Cromwell’s army in Jamaica. England gained control of the islands, together with Jamaica, under the Treaty of Madrid of 1670.
N.Am1674(New Jersey) Was divided into West Jersey and East Jersey after 1674, each held by its own company of Proprietors.
N.Am1681Province of Pennsylvania, later Pennsylvania, founded in 1681 as an English colony, although first settled by the Dutch and the Swedes
India, Asia1685Bencoolen was an East India Company pepper-trading centre with a garrison on the coast of the island of Sumatra, established in 1685.
C/S. Am1690Falkland Islands: Claimed for England by mariner John Strong in 1690, who made the first recorded landing on the islands.
India, Asia1690Calcutta on the Hooghly River in Bengal was settled by the East India Company in 1690.
N.Am1704Delaware Colony, later Delaware, separated from Pennsylvania in 1704
N.Am1732Province of Georgia, later Georgia; first settled in 1732. (Brit., not English.)